S4E7: How to Become a Software Engineer at Amazon and Volunteer on the Side With Christine Chapman

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By day, Christine Chapman works as a software engineer at Audible, where she’s been ever since leaving her previous role as a full-stack Android developer at Amazon. But her love of tech doesn’t stop when she leaves the office: Christine is also passionate about giving back and spreading computer science literacy to her community.

Some of Christine’s favorite organizations to get involved with are ones that make an effort to increase diversity in the tech world, like Black Girls Code, Girl Develop It, and Women’s Coding Collective. She teaches courses for Girl Develop It and volunteers at Uplift, a nonprofit dedicated to combating sexual violence online.

In our conversation, Christine talks about her early experiences studying computer science and interning in competitive programs, gives advice for a job at a company like Amazon, and encourages us all to volunteer outside our day jobs, with actionable tips for getting involved.

This episode was transcribed with the help of an AI transcription tool. Please forgive any typos.

Laurence Bradford 0:06
Hey listeners. Welcome to the Learn to Code With Me podcast. I'm your host, Laurence Bradford. Before we get into today's episode, I just want to remind you that you can get the Show Notes for this episode in every other episode at learntocodewith.me/podcast. And if you enjoy the show, make sure to subscribe on whichever podcast player you listen on. And if you're feeling particularly generous, a review would be awesome too. Here's a quick word from our sponsors who helped make the show possible.

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Laurence Bradford 0:55
The Product College is an accelerated higher education for the next generation. Tech leaders only pay tuition after you graduate and launch your career at companies like Facebook and Google. Find out more at makeschool.com. That's m-a-k-eschool.com. In today's episode, I talk with Christine Chapman, a software engineer at Audible. Christine is a recent college graduate and is totally wise beyond her years. We chat about what it's like interviewing at Amazon, how you can work on side projects within your full time role, giving back to the community with one's tech skills, and much more. This interview may leave you feeling inspired to get your tech career started. But to do that, you have to get past a little thing called the technical interview. These interviews can be super tricky. That's why I want to make sure you know about Interview Cake. Interview Cake gives you over 50 hours of technical interview practice questions to help you ace your interview. The guys that interview cake are so confident they'll be To help you land a job that if you use interview cake and don't get a job, they'll actually give you your money back. You either get a life changing job in tech or complete refund. Even better, I've managed to get a 20% off discount for Learn to Code With Me podcast listeners. To get that discount just go through my affiliate link, which is learntocodewith.me/cake. The discount will be automatically apply when you go through that URL. And again, the URL is learntocodewith.me/cake. And don't forget to tell me when you land a new job. I'll be super excited to hear about it. Christine Chapman is a software engineer at audible. She studied computer science at Brown University and has worked at Amazon as well as TripAdvisor. in her spare time she teaches coding classes through girl development and other programs.

Laurence Bradford 2:58
Hi, Christine, thank you so much. Thanks for coming on the show.

Christine Chapman 3:01
Thanks so much for having me, Laurence.

Laurence Bradford 3:02
Yeah, I'm really excited to talk to you today. Real quick. Is there anything else you'd like to add that intro before we get into the interview?

Christine Chapman 3:09
Um, I think that one of the things I always like to point out because I meet a lot of people who study computer science through a variety of means, I feel like there's this unnecessary bias toward towards people who studied computer science in school or anything like that. But I really loved meeting people who studied through a variety of ways. I think that's actually a really interesting path for getting into computer science and the ways you can bring that. So I always like to talk about stuff like that. And that's why I'm excited to be here.

Laurence Bradford 3:35
Yeah, three courses that you teach at Girl Develop that I know I'm familiar with organization. I know a lot of women there are changing careers. Maybe a little bit later in life. Maybe they did study something technical in college. That was certainly my story. And I actually took a lot of girl development courses early on. I think I took like nine in the first month, my first two months. Yeah, that I began learning Yeah, I used to drive like an hour to go to the closest chapter. To me this is when I was living back in Pennsylvania. So it really shaped like my trajectory without debt without a doubt. So getting back to you now, let's you studied computer science. How did you end up choosing that major at school?

Christine Chapman 4:19
Oh, yeah. So I think I'm one of the few people at the time that was lucky enough to have actually like a high school, a program that covered computer science, I think that the programs are definitely getting better. But my high school classes did not really resemble the kind of stuff you would learn in college or that you would learn in girl development classes. But definitely got me interested. We sometimes focused on like the very minute and boring parts of computer science, but somehow I was still interested at that point. And so from there, I kind of just like assumed that that's what I wanted to do going into computer science in college, which was a good decision to have made them because I feel like there are a lot of hard parts about actually choosing to study it's so I feel like deciding that that was already a path I was on was kind of what helped me out continue down that path. But I mean, overall, I always kind of liked the problem solving and the aspect of getting to work on something and then seeing it on your screen and kind of that feeling of joy when you actually get to see it working.

Laurence Bradford 5:11
Yeah. So you mentioned that you studied computer science a bit in high school. I'm just curious, where did you grow up?

Christine Chapman 5:17
So this was in South Florida, I think I took and I also went to high school in Indiana for a bit. So I think I took like a web development class when I was in Indiana, and then I took a Visual Basic class, which is not a great way to learn computer science, my opinion and and then I took AP Computer Science, which was in Java, but we didn't really learn Java very well, like, within like, one week at college, it was clear that I didn't really know Java, and then I was actually learning it. But what I really liked about the, the class, the last class, one in Java is that we really, the teacher was very flexible. It encouraged us to kind of just make whatever we want it so some people would, you know, take the assignment and then they were really obsessive Pokemon. So they would Do something like that, or I really liked Harry Potter at the time. And I still do a lot. And so I would make all my assignments about that. And so it was a great way of like using computer science to kind of make what you like. And we would kind of demo stuff in class. And so I really like that aspect of it.

Laurence Bradford 6:12
Yeah, that sounds like a lot of fun. How did your high school experience compare with your college experience, then, with computer science?

Christine Chapman 6:20
Definitely, college was a lot more rigorous. And also, more interesting. We spent a lot of time in high school literally doing things like you would have like a for loop. And you'd have to like, write down on paper, like an execution one of this loop, like I zero and execution two, it's like, stuff like that was like a lot of what we were doing in class in high school, which is pretty boring, and not necessarily the best way to focus on things. But in college, you know, we got to learn a lot more depth about how things worked and work on pretty big projects. So I really like that aspect of it. And I also feel like I liked the community, more of my college classes and being able to kind of work with people and things Sounds a lot of fun.

Laurence Bradford 7:00
And then when you're in college, what was the main programming language that they were teaching at Brown?

Christine Chapman 7:05
Um, I say the main one was definitely Java. I also did functional programming at the beginning in Racket, which is like a version of scheme as well as Oh, camel. And then I took out the classes in like C and c++, but mostly Java.

Laurence Bradford 7:22
And at your internships during college and even like in your career immediately after school. Were you working the same languages? Or were you required to learn something else?

Christine Chapman 7:33
Mm hmm. I'm pretty much most of my time working in industry, including internships has been in Java, which I was lucky about, because I was kind of always the language I felt the most comfortable with. So I did like Android for a while, which is a Java and services development in Java. And like, at a few times, I've had to learn other things like sometimes I'll write scripts in Python or the other day, I had to do a project that involves JavaScript, but most of the time I get to do Java.

Laurence Bradford 7:58
So you mentioned it Android development and a lot of the Learn to Code With Me listeners are really interested in mobile app development one way or another. So I would love if you could talk more about that.

Christine Chapman 8:09
Yeah, I love Android development. I am. In March, I recently switched to a team that was not Android, which was kind of sad in itself, because I, I really love a lot of aspects of it. I think, what's really great, I really love being a client developer, pretty much most of my time, I've worked on some aspect of front end, whether that's like a service that's the front end or Android or something like that. And so I really like that aspect of really interfacing with the users. I really enjoy the like UI parts of Android development. A lot of people don't like that as much as I think there's a lot of interesting challenges with mobile development, like thinking about the space constraints, the fact that you have to support a huge array of devices. You know, like iOS, there's only so many devices that are currently on the market. For Android, there's so many different sizes and shapes and not a memory and so kind of figuring out how you can create a good experience for everyone with that is a lot of fun. And I also think the Android is a very accessible language to learn. I think you need a foundation in Java, obviously. But once you have that, I think it's pretty easy to pick up some tutorials. And there's a great community around Android, where there's so many demos and tutorials and stuff you can kind of work through.

Laurence Bradford 9:14
And of course, you teach girl development courses. What subjects did you instruct?

Christine Chapman 9:19
Um, yeah, I've done a variety of classes, I've been meaning to do an Android QA. So hopefully that one is coming up next year. But generally, I do web development that's in pretty high demand as well as I've done a class on get. And I'm actually teaching next month that or in a few weeks, I'm actually teaching a similar with a similar group like girl development. We're teaching web development, but specifically to this is for bridgeview Women's Center, which is a homeless center, homeless shelter, as well as a community that works to kind of provide job training and stuff like that. And actually, I met people doing similar work through girl development. And I specifically believe it like, it's really important to give back to the community and not just in ways like that are continuing to make areas that are very tech heavy like Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I live, you want to make sure you're reaching out to other communities that don't have access like that. And so that's something that I like to do, whether that's through girl development or through other groups.

Laurence Bradford 10:22
Yeah, that's really awesome that you're doing that. And I started you mentioned that. So which town is that? And I am familiar with the Boston area, I'm sure I know. There's listeners as well that live up there. So I know you mentioned living in Cambridge, where is this other class that you're teaching?

Christine Chapman 10:35
Um, it's, it's a little bit past. It's kind of between like ashmont and Forest Hills. It's in like the Dorchester area. And they have a few different locations. So technically in Boston, but sometimes people consider Boston different areas. But yeah, it's a it's called a bridgeview Women's Center, and they have a lot of career classes and stuff like that. And so we're kind of working with them on this.

Laurence Bradford 11:00
That you're giving back. And I imagine this is after your full time job, of course, right? So in the evenings or on weekends.

Christine Chapman 11:06
Yeah, this one's gonna be, you know, Tuesday evenings for the next month or so. Definitely takes a little time to balance things, but I think you can make it happen.

Laurence Bradford 11:14
Yeah, yeah, of course. And for these courses, I guess, a girl development or any of the others that you're leading? are you creating the curriculum? Or maybe it varies depending on the program.

Christine Chapman 11:26
So if you then I started off, I was like, dang, for the classes. But now I usually teach so I, I usually create the curriculum myself. So I'm doing something through girl development, they do have a variety of curriculum available. So usually, I'll look at that for inspiration, but kind of customize it to the way that I would teach it. I think so. People have different styles. And it's important to like, make sure that you're comfortable with the style you're presenting.

Laurence Bradford 11:49
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So for someone listening who really wants to give back in some way, and we'd love to teach a workshop or some other kind of course, what advice Could you give them on the best way to get started?

Christine Chapman 12:02
Yeah, I think you want to look through groups in your community that are kind of doing this work. I think it can be tempting to like, want to start your own, which I think is helpful. But I think first you want to kind of be engaged with the current community and see what is working and what is not working. So some groups that you could get involved with, obviously, girl development, they have chapters nationwide. I've done some stuff with black girls code, which does workshops for children. Like I think I did one for like eight to 11 year olds, there's, you know, there's teaching workshops and stuff at some of the something like General Assembly or something like that. They do various workshops for the community. And there's, there's all kinds of organization I think there's like women's coding collective, any kind of just want to see what's going on. Another way that people like to get involved a lot is through Computer Science Education Week in December, where a lot of people like to go in schools in the area. And I think that that's another time where I think it's important to kind of Pay attention to what you're reaching out to. I think that, you know, more affluent areas tend to get a lot more people with parents who already know these kind of things who are helping or just a lot more access to education like that. And I think that it's great that sex literacy is increasing a lot. And you kind of want to make sure you're continuing to spread that to neighborhoods, in your community and like schools in your community that could really use the help.

Laurence Bradford 13:21
Yeah, and Computer Science Education Week. And I feel like I should know this off the top of my head, but this is that's the initiative through code.org. That's correct. Yes. Okay. So for the entire week, getting classrooms engaged and going through like computer science courses.

Christine Chapman 13:38
Yeah, yeah. They have a specific curriculum that you can use, both for design for teachers, as well as designed for people who want to go into schools and teach it. And there's stuff for every age, so there's, you know, stuff for children and there's stuff for like high school students. And it's kind of designed to help everyone get in like an hour of code. And the idea is that that kind of stuff can be really inspiring and kind of help people understand that this is something that they can do. I think a lot of people, especially I feel like adults today feel like because they never did something like this, but it's completely inaccessible to them and not something that they could learn. But I actually through doing stuff like this, I've met a lot of kids who, you know, they're in like eighth grade. And they've already done this a few times something like this. And so they actually don't see coding is that inaccessible, as I think a lot of adults do today, just because it's the kind of thing that is being taught in schools, if only maybe for a few hours a year.

Laurence Bradford 14:30
Yeah. And I apologize, I'm switching gears entirely. But I feel like this is something we just have to talk about during during this interview. Of course, you work at Amazon, you've been at Amazon for I'm looking at your LinkedIn real quick. Now. 2013 was when you got your first internship there, and you've been there ever since you've moved around the company and worked on your different products and whatnot. And, of course, Amazon's a top tech company, right? So what advice could you give to others who would love to work at a company like Amazon And just any tips on how they could prepare for that?

Christine Chapman 15:04
Absolutely. Yeah, I think that the benefit of applying to somewhere like Amazon or any kind of company that is well known and has a lot of people working there is that it's pretty easy to find resources on that. I think if you're trying to apply to a small startup, you might be the first person who's actually looking for this information online. So you know, obviously like general stuff, like looking through Glassdoor talking to anyone you know, who works there. And I think, for Amazon, specifically, and I think this does apply to other company, as you kind of want to learn what their interview process is, like. I think there's a general tech flow of interviews that it's good to be prepared for. But I think kind of understanding what specific companies are looking for. So like for Amazon, there's the Amazon leadership principles, and these are things that you can find online. And so usually a portion of every interview will involve questions where you're drawing on your leadership experience, and so you want to be prepared for that. You want to make sure that you're not just like 100% ready to do algorithms questions, but then can really talk about your experience. And that's really similar for other tech companies is they'll have a certain style. And so you want to make sure you're prepared for that.

Christine Chapman 16:07
And I think it's also important to just, you know, continue applying a lot of places and not see one tech company as the, as the company that kind of decides whether or not you're like worthwhile or whether or not you're actually a good developer. Because I think that the more interviews you do, the more obvious it is that interviews are kind of random. And whether you do well at one can be just that you had a great day, the previous day, and you're just feeling really energetic and confident. And that causes you to do better at the questions or you're not feeling so great. And it's not necessarily like a reflection of who you are as a person or anything like that. And I think that when you kind of get in your head about that, I know that I did for a while, where I would get rejected from somewhere and kind of assumed that there was no hope for me or like, I just couldn't do computer science. I think that that just makes you more and more stressed and it's kind of a spiral. And so I think just kind of applying to places you're interested in and continuing to try I think that, you know, people who keep going, eventually are going to find something and that's going to be a better company for you. I think if, if you're not getting into somewhere, I think that you know, it's a good sign that like anything could have happened, but it's probably a good sign that similar to getting into college that like that may not have been the best fit for you and so kind of continuing to grow and I think eventually you're going to find a company where you really fit in.

Laurence Bradford 17:22
We're taking a quick break from this interview to hear a word from our sponsors, who helped make the learn to code the podcast a reality.

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Laurence Bradford 19:39
Yep, I 100% agree with you. There's been times I've been you know, rejected as well from companies and or rejected in one way or another and looking back I always think, oh, wow, those actually I feel like that rejection really led me or was one of the factors that then led me to where I am today. So I definitely think people should keep that in mind when that happens. So one of the things that you mentioned that earlier, just in your response about how bigger companies have a lot of resources online about, like interviewing there and all that stuff, and I 100% agree with that, too. I remembered I was interviewing at places like over a year ago now, I was looking at law startups, a lot didn't even have Glassdoor profiles. Like there was I was like looking at people's like Twitter's and LinkedIn like trying to piece like the, like the company together. So that is definitely an advantage of applying somewhere like Amazon or you know, Apple, Google, Facebook, any of the larger tech companies where you can just find like, if you google like interview questions at x, and they'll just be all these results that appear that will give you like sample interview questions whether it's on Glassdoor there's other websites as well that can like curate them. So that's all really awesome. And you've now been there for what like three, four years total?

Christine Chapman 20:52
Yeah, I just passed my three year anniversary of full time. Yeah.

Laurence Bradford 20:55
Oh, okay. super exciting. How long were you interning there before you went to full time?

Christine Chapman 21:00
Interning for three months, the summer of 2013.

Laurence Bradford 21:03
Okay, nice. And I'm looking at like your kind of structure. So you basically intern there and correct me if I'm wrong over the summer for your senior year of college. And then I would imagine that that turned into a full time job that you started then when you graduated.

Christine Chapman 21:16
Yeah, that's right.

Laurence Bradford 21:17
Okay, cool. So that's Yeah, that's really it's really great that that worked out. But that's also um, I talked to a ton of people who studied computer science and are in a similar situation as that and even folks that interned there last year they never went back to school because they just like they were given a full time offer and they just wish maybe what's your, you know, three years in already into a computer science degree? Maybe that's not the best decision. I guess everyone has like a different path, though. But what, when you were getting that initial internship, I know there's some listeners that are still in college or even younger than that, and I'm thinking of what to study in college. What was that process like, if you can recall, I know it was maybe like, you know, years ago now?

Christine Chapman 22:00
Yeah, I was definitely extremely stressed out about that. And I think ultimately, that was what was the main factor in me deciding to continue working at Amazon is that I didn't want to go through that again. But basically, you know, I applied to a lot of places, and I really didn't have a lot of luck earlier on. I think that I probably started in September, and I got my Amazon interview and then offer like in April or something. So it was a very long process. And it was tough because I think that depending on your environment, it can be very supportive and people around you maybe if you're kind of in an environment where there's not a lot of people from the same industry, that everyone's kind of supportive, and that can be really positive. I was in an environment where everyone was also trying to get the same internships, and it wasn't like we were directly competing. But I think that when you just continue to hear about how people are having such success and getting more and more things, it can kind of feel like there's something wrong with you. And so, I found that part really stressful and I personally and I'm still not really great at interviews specifically like the algorithm questions. For your drawing on the whiteboard are not great for me. So I practice them.

Christine Chapman 23:04
And I just kept doing really badly on them. And I actually like for sure, lucked into my Amazon internship in that it happened to be the question was related to something that I had been teaching at the time. That was a big part of my college experience. And what we were covering that week in the intro class was what they were asking me. And so I've been helping people like over and over again with this exact question. And so I was really good at it. And I think I mentioned that to them, maybe it's hard to recall. But ultimately, like, you know, at some point, I just got lucky. And, you know, for a while I kind of like really focused on that and felt like I didn't really deserve the job. But I don't really think that's true. And I think that everyone kind of looks into things related to any job in that. You know, you happen to get something that you're good at and like, you know, another company might have been great for you. But the question they asked you is just not something that really plays to your strengths. And so that's why you kind of have to keep going and so I don't remember but I applied to something like 30 years ago. Different places and like I only got into the one. And so like I'm obviously really happy about that that worked out. But you know, you got to keep going and like there are a lot of places I think I got rejected from and I was kind of really focused on that for a while, but I just kind of knew I had to keep going.

Laurence Bradford 24:16
Yeah, it can be hard when you have like your eyes set on a certain job and you get really excited and you go in and it almost feels and I hate to come I don't like to make this comparison but there's honestly nothing else that I can compare to but to me kind of feels like dating or something like looking for a job and like you're going on these interviews. And it's like you're you know, you're like kind of talking to one another and seeing if it's a good fit and then it's like oh, like Do they like me? like am I gonna hear back from them and then you get rejected or you move along and then you get you can make it rejected later then you know, or things work out and it's all you know, well and good. So yeah, I can definitely be the whole interview experience can be tedious and yeah, and nerve wracking. I think that's a good word nerve wracking at times. Yeah. But I mean, like, you know, you're working Amazon now, three years in, like, that's great, you know, and I'm even looking at your LinkedIn now. And it looks like you moved up to software engineer to is that the right way to say it as software engineer to or do I say level two?

Christine Chapman 25:18
No. Two is right. Yeah. Usually I say SDE 2 which I think that's the more way of saying it. But which stands for software development engineer.

Laurence Bradford 25:25
Yeah. And so this is, this is like, totally not something I expect you to ask. But I'm just really curious, because I've been thinking a lot about, of course, I work at a smaller company, like different job titles and like levels and obviously at bigger companies is a lot more structured. How does that sort of like work like, like, what is the definition between going from like software developer engineer and then the software engineer to?

Christine Chapman 25:49
Yeah, I think, yeah, it definitely varies a lot from company to company like Well, sometimes interview people and they're like, senior or like something even higher at their other company. And that actually ends up mapping to a to hear or like sometimes vice versa, it's kind of hard to really compare between companies for our company. So you know, SDU one. So level one is usually it depends. It's, it's often people who are just out of college, that's a good example of that, or people who haven't had a lot of experience in an environment like Amazon, so maybe you worked in an environment where you were kind of one of the only people who's able to do things, it was kind of just, you know, scrambling to make things happen. And that was great. But you weren't necessarily like, like learning kind of design principles and stuff. I think the biggest thing is kind of the design aspect as well as the mentoring aspect. So when you're an SD, one kind of most of your job is related to coding and getting things done. And I think when you as you move up in the levels, at least in Amazon, there's kind of a lot more leadership expectation in terms of, you know, you're mentoring people around you, you're helping the team get better. You're kind of focusing on ways that your whole team can get better and improve and think about it from that. perspective, there's also a design aspect and that, you know, you should be able to design certain components of your team's architecture, and stuff like that. And then you can kind of move up through various levels at Amazon. And that kind of focuses more on the design and more at the big picture, and less on the day to day stuff. And also a lot more on leadership and helping your team eventually your organization and maybe eventually the company.

Laurence Bradford 27:22
Got it. So what comes after then stt is there is there an SD3?

Unknown Speaker 27:26
Yeah, yeah, there is. It's a little confusing at Audible. There's like another level between two and three. So we actually call them something different typically. But basically, yeah, you move from SD through se to test v3 and SC three is sometimes called senior engineer. And then after that Amazon is principal engineer. At that point, you're kind of not really on like a typical, like Scrum or agile team. You're typically like, for a whole project like you know, maybe you're the principal, a principal engineer for, like, I don't know like a specific device. Like the echo or something like that. And so you kind of like handle like, how are we going to make sure this whole product comes out on time. And I understand that this team is doing this one thing and this other team is doing this other thing, and how can we kind of make that all come together. And so at that point, you may not you may or may not be doing a lot of day to day coding, you may be doing more meetings and helping understand that this team's architecture is designed to work with other teams architecture, and you might actually be doing coding as well, but maybe like bigger projects and stuff like that.

Laurence Bradford 28:28
Okay, so this this just like totally fascinates me, just hearing how different companies have it, like, structured how you move up the ranks and also just like the different titles and I know it can, it can vary so much. I work in product management, and I know at like Microsoft, for instance. The title there for similar roles would be like a program manager, which at another company could be totally different, like a program manager could be like, I mean, that's like a very appropriate manager. You could be working almost at like a not a tech company be a program if you're managing the program of a school or something. Right. Like the Yeah, the curriculum or I don't know, something like that. So yeah, it's all it's all really interesting. And Okay, so what about I'm an engineering manager? Do you guys do you? Do you have those as well? Is it more like focusing on hiring?

Christine Chapman 29:12
Yeah, we definitely have engineering managers. I think that, depending on the team structure, their role changed a little bit. But basically, you know, they're involved with making sure that they're having like, you know, weekly or bi weekly, or whatever meetings with their employees, making sure people are happy making sure you know, people understand how they fit into the larger organization. They're definitely involved with hiring. And they're also kind of involved with like, I think a lot of people describe engineering management as kind of like shielding the team from a variety of things. So kind of helping, make sure that like people are able to focus on the right things, being the one to kind of talk with, you know, product leadership or whatever about how they're going to be interfacing with the developers. And, you know, usually they'll be pretty technical and that I think anyone kind of working on these teams needs to be able to like understand Kind of architecture decisions or when people are giving status updates kind of understand what they're talking about. But they're not gonna actually be coding. I think some people have the concept of like a tech lead, which is kind of like a combination of a manager, and a software engineer. And we don't really have something like that if you're an engineering manager, editor, you're not really coding and you're kind of more focused on ensuring your team is happy and productive and that your team is kind of fitting into the larger structure.

Laurence Bradford 30:23
And I'm super curious. What, which direction do you see yourself heading in and I don't necessarily mean like just at Amazon but you are really involved in the community and your sounds like you're really into teaching you teach in college, you teach a girl development, you are teaching at other organizations in like the Boston area. Do you see yourself? No, yeah, I'm just curious, like, how do you see yourself moving along the future?

Christine Chapman 30:49
Mm hmm. Yeah. So I guess the other thing I didn't mention, which is surprising for me is that the other big thing that I do at work is I run our our I started our enzyme women and engineering chapter about Three years ago, and so I do a lot of stuff for diversity work in the office. And as our office has grown, I've kind of more and more become like the person people talk to if they're interested about like, what programs should they be rolling out and stuff like that. So sometimes I've thought about that. And, you know, doing that full time for either an organization or, you know, an organization that only does stuff like that, like project include or something. But I think at the moment, and I think that I felt this for a while, I really just like the general life of a software engineer, I think that some people go into management. And that's a really important job. But it's not something that really interests me. I think that what I really like about being a software engineer is that it's very flexible in that, you know, if you want to spend the whole day coding, you can do that. But I think there's a lot of other aspects of being a software engineer that I really enjoy. So I really enjoy interviewing and I really enjoy getting to work on Amazon, women in engineering, and I enjoy helping out with recruiting events, and those are all things that I can do as part of being a software engineer without having to make one Have them my full time job or anything like that. And I also just really enjoy the aspect of coding, obviously,

Laurence Bradford 32:05
Yeah, I love how you mentioned all those different things that you're involved with, because I feel like, at least I felt this way. When I first started getting into tech, I felt like I had to, like get this job in tech. At the time, when I first started learning, I thought I want to be like a web developer. And I would be very rigid. And all I would do is like web development all day. And I feel like that's just so far from the truth. I love to hear that you are saying that, especially in a bigger company, because, you know, I've I've never worked at bigger company, startups and startups, it can be very easy to wear many hats and get involved in other areas of the company that have like a demand for or do they just need some more attention, right? Because maybe that department a team is lacking. It's like, okay, you can go help out that team or something and it could totally not relate to your current day. And that's what I love. I love that.

Laurence Bradford 32:54
It sounds like you know, a horse out there companies you're doing this as well. You're getting to go to these events and you know, for recruiting you started this chapter and i, you said it was called the Amazon women and engineering chapter. Correct? Yeah. Okay, awesome. So you're doing that too. And you're interviewing people and you're talking about diversity. And of course, you're still being a software engineer at the same time. So I love that. You know, companies nowadays I feel like, big, small, there's just so much flexibility in what you can choose to work on. Yeah. And your day to day. Yeah. Yeah, that's all great. So awesome. Thank you so much, Christine, for coming on the show. Finally. Yeah, I just ask you one last question. Cuz you do work with a ton of beginners and people that are just getting to tech through um, you're teaching. What advice do you have for someone that is first starting out teaching themselves how to code?

Christine Chapman 33:50
Yeah, I definitely think that, you know, it's important to find what you love about coding, I think if you are kind of too focused on the end goal, which is obviously important. So thanks. Like, oh, I need to get better at interviewing in order to get this job at this company I want if you're too focused on that, I think coding can start to be very negative influence on your life. And it can kind of get more and more like you're just focused on those. But I think you probably found coding because of some interest or something that you really like about the process. And I think that making sure whether you're applying or whether you're studying or currently in a program, that you're still finding time to enjoy that. And I think that definitely applies for being an industry as well. Because I think, you know, like, it's only worth it if you like it, you know, it's, you don't want to like, go through all of med school and then find out you actually hate being a doctor or something like that.

Christine Chapman 34:37
And so, I'm kind of focused on that, make sure you still have time to do things like that, and, you know, continue to stretch yourself and try new things. Other like practical advice for people, you know, applying for the first time without a lot of like, things that you would maybe classifies concrete experiences to, you know, include everything that you've done that's related. So You know, if you have a few projects that you've done just for fun or to like, practice something you want to make sure you're including those include links to them in your GitHub. And, you know, if you've gone to a hackathon talk about that, I think that people actually like to see stuff like that. And a lot of the time seeing that will kind of dissuade anyone's concerns. If you maybe don't have a traditional path, they'll see that you do have these kind of experiences. And so I think that's a great way to highlight your strengths, as well as to get more experienced and kind of get better and more confident.

Laurence Bradford 35:26
Great advice. Thank you so much again, Christine, and where can people find you online?

Christine Chapman 35:31
Yeah, you can find me at ChristineZora with a Z on Twitter, or my Medium account where I talk a lot about the tech industry is Christine Chapman, @ChristineChapman.

Laurence Bradford 35:42
Awesome. Thank you again for coming on.

Christine Chapman 35:44
Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

Laurence Bradford 35:52
Thanks for tuning in today. If you're interested in becoming a tech professional like the guests on this show, there are few things more powerful for landing in Jobs then a standout LinkedIn profile. your LinkedIn profile can make or break your job hunt. To make sure your profile is up to speed, download my free LinkedIn profile completion checklist for in specifically with technical employment in mind. You can find it at learntocodewith.me/LinkedIn. It was great to have you with me today. Join me next week to hear from another successful techie or browse through the episode archives at learntocodewith.me/podcast. See you later.

Key takeaways:

  • A benefit of applying to larger companies like Amazon is that you’ll be able to find more resources and reviews to help you prepare for the interview process, whereas these don’t exist for smaller companies.
  • Don’t let any one company be the be-all and end-all. Keep your mind and options open.
  • It’s important to give back. Start by getting involved with organizations that already exist near you or online, like Girl Develop It.
  • More affluent areas tend to get more access to computer science education. To really make an impact, try to volunteer in underserved communities.
  • It’s important to focus on what you like about coding, and not just focusing on the end goal like getting a job. It’s only worth it if you actually enjoy it.
  • When you’re applying to a tech job without concrete experience, include everything related that you’ve done like fun side projects and hackathons on your resume. This can help you get around not having traditional experience.

Links and mentions from the episode:

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